Job’s Reply to Bildad.

JOB’S DEFENSE AGAINST SUSPICION. — Both Eliphaz and Bildad had attempted to fasten upon Job some specific wrong, seeking from him a confession to that effect. He therefore defends himself against this manner of drawing conclusions in his case. V. 1. Then Job answered and said, v. 2. I know it is so of a truth, namely, that God is righteous in all His doing, that He never perverts justice; but how should man, a mortal being, man in his mortality and weakness, be just with God? Even if mortal man should, in his own opinion, be in the right over against God, his own judgment is without value; for no man, as God plainly states. can be just in His sight. V. 3. If he will contend with Him, if mortal man should dare to enter into litigation with the great God, he cannot answer Him one of a thousand; if man’s case were brought to trial, God could and would so quickly embarrass and overwhelm him with questions that he would quickly stand there in mute shame, unable to justify himself in one item. V. 4. He is wise in heart and mighty in strength; those are two outstanding attributes of God. Who hath hardened himself against Him, stiffening his neck in foolish opposition, bidding Him defiance, and hath prospered? With His wisdom the Lord can confuse man, and with His strength He can overcome him; so no mortal can maintain his cause before God. V. 5. Which removeth the mountains and they know not, without their being aware of the fact; which overturneth them in His anger; His wrath strikes them with such sudden fury that they are not even conscious of the change effected by His power until all has been done. V. 6. Which shaketh the earth out of her place, causing not only the mountains, but the entire earth to tremble in mighty earthquakes, and the pillars thereof tremble, its very foundations are rocked and shaken, Ps. 75, 3; Is. 24, 20. V. 7. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, withholding his golden rays from the earth; and sealeth up the stars, setting a seal round about them, veiling them by thick clouds and darkening the night as well as the day, as He chooses. V. 8. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, like an immense tent, Is. 40, 22, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea, He is their Master; though they rise up in threatening heights, Ps. 107, 26, at His almighty command they must serve Him with meekness. V. 9. Which maketh Arcturus, the constellation of the Great Bear, in the northern part of the sky, Orion, a constellation of the southern sky, and Pleiades, a constellation of the eastern sky, and the chambers of the south, the secret places of the Antarctic sky, for in that direction the endless spaces of the heavens were hidden from the sight of the Arabian astronomers. V. 10. Which doeth great things past finding out, yea, and wonders without number. Job cheerfully agreed with his friend, chap. 5, 9, on the absolute power and the inexpressible majesty of God. The Lord’s great power is put forth not only in the kingdom of nature, but also in His government of man. V. 11. Lo, He goeth by me, and I see Him not; He passeth on also, but I perceive Him not. Though his eyes cannot see the great and mighty God, his spirit perceives His nearness, as He sweeps by like a destructive wind before which no man can stand. V. 12. Behold, He taketh away, snatching away His victim and all the spoil He chooses to take; who can hinder Him, holding Him back from His course, placing hindrances in His way? Who will say unto Him, What doest Thou? This thought of God’s overwhelming and often apparently arbitrary power now prompts Job to speak in an almost defiant manner. V. 13. If God will not withdraw His anger, rather, affirmatively, “He will not cause it to return,” He will not recall it, the proud helpers do stoop under Him, literally, “the helpers of Rahab cringe before Him,” the reference being to a historical or a legendary defeat of some mighty enemies of Jehovah. V. 14. How much less shall I answer Him, namely, than such great and mighty adversaries, and choose out my words to reason with Him? No matter how carefully he might choose his words, attempting to get just the right expression, he could not escape rebuke on the part of God. V. 15. Whom, though I were righteous, even if Job were in the right, free from blame according to standards of right as commonly accepted, yet would I not answer, that is, Job could not answer, but I would make supplication to my Judge, being brought to the humiliating position of beseeching the Judge, who was his adversary, accuser, and judge in one person. V. 16. If I had called, and He had answered me, if Job’s pleading would apparently find favor, yet would I not believe that He had hearkened unto my voice; he feared that God’s infinite exaltation would keep Him from showing such kindness. V. 17. For He breaketh me with a tempest, that is, He would overwhelm Job with a storm, should he attempt such a course, and multiplieth my wounds without cause, in spite of Job’s innocence He would pursue him with calamities. V. 18. He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness, this being considered the food with which Job should satisfy his soul. V. 19. If I speak of strength, lo, He is strong, in a trial of strength Job would, of course, not stand a show; and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead? If it were a question of right and judgment, the mighty word of God would be thundered at him: Who will cite Me? In either case, there was no hope for weak and mortal man. V. 20. If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; even if he were right, the confusion of his speech would condemn him; if I say, I am perfect, innocent, without guilt, it shall also prove me perverse, set him forth as guilty. V. 21. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul, he had reached the point where he no longer knew himself; I would despise my life, it had become a burden to him. He felt so unspeakably wretched that he wished to die. In all this Job forgot that even the breath of an accusation against God as though He were not just and righteous in all His works is an insult to His glorious majesty.

JOB INSISTS THAT GOD VISITS ALSO THE RIGHTEOUS WITH AFFLICTION. — V. 22. This is one thing, it is all one, or, it makes no difference whether a person is innocent or guilty; therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked; this statement Job feels constrained to make against God. V. 23. If the scourge slay suddenly, namely, by means of any calamity, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent, God will mock at the despair of the guiltless, not permitting Himself to be disturbed in the enjoyment of His heavenly bliss. V. 24. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked, this God readily permits; He covereth the faces of the judges thereof, veiling their eyes and permitting them to render wicked decisions, to practice unrighteousness; if not, where and who is He? Who but God could it be that does this! V. 25. Now, my days are swifter than a post, flying away more swiftly than the motion of a courier, or runner; they flee away, they see no good; Job despairs of ever being released of his affliction, he has entirely forgotten his former state of prosperity. V. 26. They are passed away as the swift ships, sweeping past like vessels of bulrush, known for their lightness and swiftness; as the eagle that hasteth to the prey, swooping down upon it with almost incredible speed. Thus Job illustrates the hasty flight of his life. V. 27. If I say, I will forget my complaint, making an attempt to rouse himself from his stupor, I will leave off my heaviness, literarily, “my countenance,” that is, his gloomy and downcast look, and comfort myself, looking cheerful once more. V. 28. I am afraid of all my sorrows, he is once more forced to shudder with pain; I know that Thou wilt not hold me innocent, that God would not declare him guiltless. V. 29. If I be wicked, rather, “I am to be guilty,” declared to be wicked by the decree of God, why, then, labor I in vain? It was a useless endeavor on his part trying to appear innocent; he felt that he was tiring himself out without result. V. 30. If I wash myself with snow-water, which was considered as containing greater cleansing power than ordinary water, and make my hands never so clean, literally, “cleansing my hands with lye,” in an effort to purge away all impurities, v. 31. yet shalt Thou plunge me in the ditch, into a sink or sewer, and mine own clothes shall abhor me. This would happen while he was still naked after his washing and would cause him to become so filthy as to make his own clothes ashamed of him. That is: “Not even the best grounded self-justification can avail him; for God, would still bring it to pass that his clearly proved innocence should change to the most horrible impurity.” (Delitzsch.) V. 32. For He is not a man, as I am, that I should answer Him, standing on the same level with Him before a court of justice, and we should come together in judgment. V. 33. Neither is there any daysman, arbitrator or mediator, betwixt us that might lay his hand upon us both, acting as umpire between God and Job to settle his case; for God was both accuser and judge. V. 34. Let Him take His rod away from me, the scourge and calamity wherewith He was smiting Job, and let not His fear terrify me, stupefying him by His majestic presence; v. 35. then would I speak and not fear Him, namely, with this handicap of overpowering majesty removed; but it is not so with me, in his own person he was not conscious of any reason why he should fear Him. Job’s defense of himself becomes so emphatic that it verges on self-righteous boasting, an act against which every believer must guard with the greatest care.